The second largest and most important mixed martial arts organization returns to Spike TV on Thursday with another title fight, this time for their light heavyweight strap. The event also features the semifinals of their lightweight tournament, a bantamweight feature bout and the Bellator debut of former women's boxing standout Holly Holm.
Can Attila Vegh snatch the title from Christian M'Pumbu? Just how good is Will Brooks? Can late replacement Jason Fischer shake things up in his rematch with David Rickles? I answer these questions and more with my predictions for Bellator 91.
What: Bellator 91
When: Thursday, the Spike TV-televised card begins at 10 p.m. Eastern. Spike.com will broadcast the preliminary fight card beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Where: Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho, NM
Truth be told, Vegh probably lost to Emanuel Newton in the Summer Series light heavyweight tournament, but that's neither here nor there. As for the present challenges, I cannot imagine M'Pumbu being able to deal with Vegh so long as the Slovakian employs a pressure game, goes high and low and stays in M'Pumbu's face. The current light heavyweight champion is good when the fight is at a distance, but I'm not sure about anything else. He's also been off for quite some time.
Props to Awad for the upset in the first round to earn him the semifinals spot, but I don't see Will Brooks going out like Guillaume DeLorenzi. Brooks needs seasoning and could be better about his conditioning, but he's the superior athlete by a million miles and the better fighter. He can do more things in more dimensions of the game and he can do them quickly. I don't see how Awad makes it out of the second round.
Their first bout was extremely close, but I wonder about tomorrow's. Fischer took the first round on my scorecard in their first meeting in part because of his striking, but also due to his wrestling. He fell short due to fatigue and Rickels' ability to score from every position, but it wasn't a blowout. Just for the fun of it, I'm going to go with Fischer. I'm probably crazy, but a part of me still isn't sold on Rickels as a polished tactician. Fischer will be able to right some of the wrongs from their encounter and take a close decision victory.
For all of West's issues, he's a demonstrably superior fighter to Montoya, especially as a ground operator. As long as he doesn't get too reckless, I honestly can't see a reason why West can't make short work of him on the mat.